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A New Endevor

Discussion in 'Gunsmithing and Repairs' started by LK, Feb 13, 2013.

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  1. LK

    LK Member

    Feb 13, 2013
    I'm hoping some of you can provide insight into our situation.

    A little back story: My husband was a very active, outdoorsy, athletic man who was injured in a car accident 7 years ago. Prior to his accident, he was a land surveyor, an electrician, and a carpenter. In addition to his physical injuries, he sustained a traumatic brain injury that impaired his memory and some cognitive skills. He has not worked out side the home in 7 years and has instead been helping raise our children. He has always been very mechanically minded. His whole family is in the antique business and his relatives often give him expensive broken things and have him fix them. Also, I will say that the accident has given him almost an inordinate attention to detail.

    The only passion and hobby he still has is guns. He loves shooting them, cleaning them, taking them apart, you name it. He has expressed a desire to attempt gun smithing. I believe that his injury has improved to the point where, cognitively, he could learn the trade. Here is the kicker, we don't live anywhere near a gun smithing school. Here is the scenario we are looking at. 1. He takes a correspondence course. (Like AGI) 2. I take the course with him to help him if he has any issues comprehending the taught material. 3. He takes some local courses on machining, welding, etc. 3. After he has finished all of that he could travel and take some short-term specialty courses on gun smithing.

    The goal is that he could open up a little shop of his own. We are not really looking to make money off of this, (I have been supporting us for 7 years, I can keep doing that) Also, we have some money set aside that we could invest in tools and equipment. Really, I am just looking for something that will make him happy and give him a sense of purpose.

    Does this even sound feasible to you guys? I know that correspondence courses aren't the ideal, but they are our only option. He wouldn't be trying to get hired by a big company or rake in the big bucks, just a little shop where he could occupy his time and feel a sense of accomplishment. Any thoughts on how to up our chances of success? Any suggestions on other gun related "jobs" he could pursue if we decide not to go this direction? Thanks!
  2. Jon_Snow

    Jon_Snow Member

    Aug 5, 2008
    Bay Area, Ca
    I can't say much given that I'm an amatuer self-gunsmith at best, but I think option 3 provides the best bet. Correnspondence courses are not worth the money and machining and welding skills are necessary but not sufficient to be a gunsmith. Many gunsmith programs also include some small business administration which is essential if you want to even break even. Check the websites of some of the better gunsmithing school for their curriculum and see how much you can duplicate locally. Then follow it up with travel (if possible) to get the courses that aren't local. Again, this is pire speculation on my part, I've never taken any courses nor do I claim to be a real gunsmith, I'm just someone who reads this part of the forum regularly.
  3. JRadice45

    JRadice45 Member

    Aug 25, 2008
    I wouldnt suggest the Correspondence courses due to the lack of supervised instruction. With correspondence courses you have the written material and follow it to the letter with no instructor checking your work as you go - giving you the subtle details of what you are doing right & wrong. With the live hands on courses you get that and dont have to un-learn bad habits picked up druing the homeschooling.
  4. LK

    LK Member

    Feb 13, 2013
    To clarify, we would be doing all three things, the correspondence sources, local courses and traveling. I'm just wondering if these three things together would be sufficent to get started, lacking any traditional schooling.
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Sep 17, 2007
    Eastern KS
    Sorry to hear of your problems.
    I know the feeling, as we have our own around our house.

    Since your husband already has wood working skills, I might suggest there is always a market for well done nicely hand-made handgun grips.

    The tooling would be considerably cheaper to start with, and there would not be nearly as much learning curve to be undertaken with his injury's.

    Another possible income source is handmade leather products.
    Lots of people make custom or handmade knives, but very few can make the nice sheaths that should go with them.

    See some of this stuff:




  6. dsink

    dsink Member

    Sep 23, 2006
    North Carolina
    rcmodel hit the nail on the head.
    People do not understand how expensive it is to do gunsmithing. You are talking ALOT of money to buy all the equipment.
    Making handgun grips would be the way to go. Maybe working towards doing long gun stocks at some point. It would be alot cheaper to get in to and you would not need to have an FFL to do them.
  7. Sun Tzu warrior

    Sun Tzu warrior Member

    Jun 24, 2012
    I have to agree with making knife sheaths, I have some very old, and new custom knives with no sheath. Please let me know if he decides to do this. Also I have a friend with very similar circumstances, he now makes a very good living making nik-naks and selling them at craft shows. One is a board with a pad of paper, and a little mail box to hang next to the door, so visitors can leave a note when finding you absent from home, like a china doll the cuttings from larger models are used to make a smaller version. they sell like hot cakes, and he uses the $ to buy lots of firearms and ammo. Hope this helps, either way it sounds like your husband has no handicap, he just does different things now. He also has one heck of a woman in his corner! Best of luck to both of you!
  8. beag_nut

    beag_nut Member

    Nov 21, 2011
    Seymour, CT
    I also agree with rcmodel, with an addition: I suggest you also go ahead with taking the local courses on machining and welding. All you could lose is some time, and not much money. Who knows what interests could arise from taking those courses? And, life is serendipity and synergy: something one learns in one venue can sometimes be applied to another.
    Above all, good luck (and let us know how it goes).
  9. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    Frozen North
    There are 2 or 3 locals, 1 from Trinity, another from Colorado state?
    Between them they talked about some of the basics, like getting tossed a block of random scrap that one side had to be perfectly FLAT and 90 on ALL corners (8 of them) another side had a to have a decreasing radius corner, and another a constant radius corner...

    All cut by hand...
    lots of stuff like that, but then how many student unions sell Mauser Actions, 1911 blanks, AR blanks etc..

    These are the serious guy, they costs lots, are able to command that cause they MAKE custom guns and have put the work in to develop their reputation.

    At home, without the 10's to 100's of thousands in tooling their shop has (reminds me, next time I'm down there I need to see if they will let me dig in the 'firewood' (discarded factory/military stocks)
  10. orionengnr

    orionengnr Member

    Jan 3, 2005
  11. Jim K

    Jim K Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    The custom handgun grips idea is a good one, but he will have to take in the guns to fit the grips, so he will need an FFL, but the overall setup costs are far less than would be needed for a gunsmith shop.

    Another job in short supply is stock work and stock repair work. I know from experience that good stock makers are like gold to a gun shop and those who set up a small shop can do very well without a big investment. (Belt sander, checkering cradle, light drill press, wood workers' vise and hand tools.)

    For example, during WWII, GIs were often allowed to bring back captured enemy rifles only if they would fit into the standard duffle bag. So many soldiers cut the stocks of their souvenir rifles. Now, with the value of those rifles increasing, there is a lot of demand for craftsmen who can put those pieces back together.

    Also, antique guns often have part of the stock worm-eaten, chipped, or destroyed by oil. Craftsmen who can cut away and replace the bad part while keeping as much of the original wood as possible are also in great demand.

    Inletting shotgun butt stocks is another area where good workers are much in demand.

    For many jobs, an FFL would not be needed, but he should have one so he can keep the guns to make sure the stock work is fitted properly.

  12. Skyshot

    Skyshot Member

    Jan 23, 2011
    I would say give it a try, but don't dive into head first. Take the correspondence courses and some machining courses. Then go out and find some beater firearms and fix them up and then seek some evaluation from a reputable gun store and or a gun smith if possible on his work. We can all monday morning quaterback your direction, but you need to get some critique from someone with firearms knowledge on his work. With this done, then start looking into equipment. There is no use in buying expensive machines and tools if the basic skill is not there. Best Regards,
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